The Karate Kid has been to Japan (in the sequel), China (in the remake), and YouTube (in the TV series). Now, Daniel-san is heading for the stage.
Screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen, who penned the 1984 film, is adapting The Karate Kid into a musical with the intent to head to Broadway, EW has learned exclusively. Kamen writes the book for this stage production with music and lyrics by Drew Gasparini (the Night Shift musical) and choreography from MTV VMA nominees Keone and Mari Madrid. Amon Miyamoto, who became the first Japanese director on Broadway with the 2004 production of Pacific Overtures, will helm the musical.
“On June 13, 1982, my daughter Alessandra (Ali with an i) was born,” Kamen said. “Two days later, when she arrived home from the hospital, I sat down with her in one of those little rocking cradles at my side, and began to write The Karate Kid. A year later, in October of 1983, principal photography began. A year after that, in June of 1984, exactly two years after I wrote the script, the film was in theaters. And there it stayed for nearly six months. Five sequels and two television shows later, amazingly the characters and the story still resonates with audiences the way it did when the film first was released. Never in my wildest dreams did I think this little movie would reach across generations the way it has. And beyond my wildest dreams did I think what started out as a love letter to my devotion to Okinawan Karate and the man who taught me would become a full-blown Broadway musical. But here it is. Here I am. And here is hoping that what comes to the stage brings the same joy and relevance The Karate Kid has brought to countless kids and their parents for the past 35 years. Go figure.”
The musical will also feature set design by Derek McLane. Additional information, including production dates and casting, will be announced at a later date.
The original Karate Kid starred Pat Morita as Mr. Miyagi and Ralph Macchio as Daniel, a high school teen who becomes Miyagi’s martial arts apprentice when a group of karate students start bullying him. The film spawned three sequels, as well as a cartoon in 1989 that Kamen also helped develop. In 2004, a self-dubbed “outrageous and unconventional riff on the beloved ’80s film” debuted in New York City as a Karate, Kid! musical spoof.
A film reboot, starring Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan, hit theaters in 2010. More recently, the franchise lives on through the YouTube Red series Cobra Kai, which returned Macchio and his former cast mate and former on-screen rival William Zabka (Johnny Lawrence).
The musical’s producer Kumiko Yoshii promises “Robert’s story is our Bible,” but affirms “we are reinventing how it is told so that it must be experienced live, in the theater.”
“Many people love Broadway musicals for ‘escape,’ but I love them because they provide insight into how we should live our lives,” Miyamoto said. “I was inspired to do a stage adaptation of The Karate Kid because it tells a story we need in this on-going ‘Age of Division’ as our society becomes increasingly globalized. The sweet contradiction of The Karate Kid is that the real nature of karate is, as the show says, ‘not for attack.’ Not to hurt, not to win, but to let opposing energies play out and come in grace to a conclusion that allows dignity and respect for all. I’m excited to show this dynamic with a visual and movement style unseen on Broadway. I want to introduce a new generation to this powerful story — through the immediate, visceral spell a good musical can cast through theatricality, music, and dance.”